South African trio Ashleigh Simon, Stacey Bregman and Kelli Shean have pulled off a historic home victory in the World Amateur Team Championships at the De Zalze Golf Club today, after initially tying level with Sweden at the end of four day’s of golf.
An overcome Vivian Horak of Women’s Golf SA explained to gsport that the hunt for the Espirito Santo Trophy came down to a count-down, first of the third rounds on the final day, then of the third rounds on Friday, at which SA was determined to be the winner.
SA is only the third country in the history of the tournament to claim the revered Trophy on home soil, the USA being the most recent in 1980, France also having won it at home in 1964.
Shortly before the prize-giving, a shaken Horak spoke to gsport. “This is beyond amazing,” exclaimed Horak, “Words do not describe the feeling.”
“It was the most frightening day of our lives, for the team, for all who’ve done all the hard work, for us to win like this at home, too difficult to describe,” said Horak, overcome with emotion.
Looking back on the tournament, it was the opening two rounds of Kelli Shean (70; 69) and Ashleigh Simon (69;69) that positioned the young team for the final assault.
Capitalising on familiarity with home conditions, a calculated strategy that paid off handsomely, the two put in a combination 11-under for first two days, to pull away from the main pack.
When Shean and Simon had a trying day on day three, Bregman’s game came together around a remarkable putting improvement, and her three-under par 69 placed SA with a four shot lead overnight before the team’s final round.
Today’s best rounds were a pair of two-over par 74’s by Shean and Simon, and even a late surge by Sweden, lead by a determined Caroline Westrup (-8; 280) could only bring the Nordic team level with SA.
A reverse count of the non-counting third player’s rounds through the tournament assured SA’s eventual triumph.
“They were crying like babies,” exclaimed the proud Gary Shean, ever-present supporter to his sister Kelli Shean.
“We’ll call gsport tomorrow with the news,” promised Shean, too excited to talk as the awards event was about to start.
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